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Writing Books/figuring out book length


Hi, I am currently writing a science fiction novel and hope to try and get it published eventually.  What I would like to know is how can you tell exactly what "novel length" is?  In other words, I'm using Microsoft Word and is there a way that I can tell, either by word count or page formatting, that I'll know that I have a novel with X number of printed pages?  

I don't want to end up with something that's super long or too short....

Hello Lee:

You are worrying unnecessarily. A stroll through your library's stacks will show you that books come in all sizes, from 20-30,000 words to over 100,000. You can use Word's word count feature to tell you how many words you have, but how many pages it will comprise as a published book is an unknown. In large part, it will depend on your publisher, who chooses the font size, margins, etc.

You can't stretch the book out by compressing the margins; there are standard rules of formatting a manuscript for publication you will need to use.

Your story should be as many words as it takes to tell the story, and not a word longer. Write your story and don't worry about whether it will be too long or too short: through future drafts its length is sure to change.

Right now you should be concerning yourself with finishing the story. Once that's done you'll have something to work with.

I hope this helps. If it does, a nice rating would be greatly appreciated. I am proud of my high score over 800 questions.

And good luck with your writing!

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Susan Rand


I can answer questions about the elements of fiction and non-fiction writing: how to get started, writing techniques, re-writing, etc. I will NOT write for you, do critiques except from my website at, or give you ideas. I will not answer home-or-schoolwork questions in any category. If English is your second language, please say so, and I will make an exception. Please submit no more than one or two questions at once, as I tend to go into detail in my answers.


I wrote my first book in 1957 and have been writing and studying writing since. I have a BA in Written Communications, and have taught writing both privately and through adult education for 15 years. Have also edited (fiction books) for an online publisher and edited/wrote more than 100 articles for a teen sex education site. Currently writing web content and mentoring beginning writers.

BA degree in Written Communication

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